Please help me welcome a new friend to the blog today! I’m excited Stephanie is here to share an alternative to Black Friday, known as Contentment Friday. I’m sold! Honestly, she had me at Contentment Friday – How about you? Let us know in the comments 🙂
Wednesday morning, the day before Thanksgiving, and my laptop finally decides its long slow death march is finally coming to an end… right as I sat down to make my deadline for submitting this very blog for publishing. Lovely. So we pile the family into the car and head over to Best Buy, to buy the family computer we were planning to acquire in the next week or so anyways. As we make our way to the front of the store, what should come into view? A line of patrons and their tents, already camped out for the upcoming Black Friday sale. My heart actually dropped in my chest. Really? THIS is what we’ve come to now? Not only are we opening more and more stores on Thanksgiving day and beckoning them away from their family tables with $9.99 Elmo dolls and discounted Playstations, now we are setting up metal crowd control fencing to contain the line of people camping out in a parking lot days before the sale even starts? It was all I could do but desperately hope my kids didn’t ask about what they were seeing, cause I was tempted to tell them that some very silly grownups were playing “lets pretend we’re on an explorer expedition” and had brought their fun campsite toys to add to the overall effect. And Im not sure how convincing that really would have been.
You see, my children don’t know about the insanity now known as “Black Friday.” Crazy, I know, but my husband and I made a choice some years ago that we would commit to abstain from Black Friday and the total circus it’s become. I hated the idea that we would gather over a Thanksgiving table on Thursday, and profess our great gratitude for all God has given us… and then run out the door so soon after in an panicked rush to “buy all the things!” It simply doesn’t compute for me. So we decided that Black Friday would cease to exist for us, and in its place a new holiday was born: Contentment Friday.
Contentment Friday isn’t just a sweet little term we’ve coined to excuse missing out on the cheapest shopping of the year. No, Contentment Friday is quite possibly second only to Christmas in terms of holiday importance for our little family. It’s a BIG deal around here. The basic premise is simple: in order to focus on our hearts and minds on the idea of contentment, we abstain from spending money in any way, shape, or form on that Friday after Thanksgiving, and we instead fill the day with family centered activities in our home. We stock up on all groceries and essentials in advance (to ensure we never have any reason for unexpected spending,) we block off the date on our work calendars as a holiday, and we prepare to spend the whole day celebrating as a family. This year will be no exception. We’ve bought cinnamon rolls to bake for breakfast, stocked up with some great new board game options, made plans to cook our favorite bacon appetizer and devour it during a family screening of Stars Wars: A New Hope (my 5 year old is especially excited about that one,) and we have all the supplies to bake sugar cookies to frost and decorate. We never feel like we’re missing out, because Contentment Friday is usually one of the fun filled days of the holiday season for us.
On Saturday, we continue the fun celebrating our official opening day for the Christmas season. By abstaining from anything Christmas related while we’re still focusing on a season of gratitude and contentment first, we get to experience a whole day dedicated to welcoming the yuletide season into our home. This is the day each year when the Christmas tree goes up, the holiday music finally gets played, the decorations come out, and those great claymation classics like “The Year Without a Santa Clause” are screened. And Im pretty sure we drink more cocoa then the rest of the year combined. Best of all, our hearts are truly prepared for the fullness of Christmas’ joy because we’ve really given heed to the gratitude from which it springs. Simply by being intentional in recognizing all we have to be thankful for, we find ourselves content with the life we already lead, and this in turn births an abundance of joy in our hearts – the very joy that the Christmas season should ultimately be about: not a quest for more things, not a stressful march to simply get through this season with what sanity we can manage, but a season of joy to the world and peace to all men.
My heart’s dream would be to see Contentment Friday take hold in more families then just our own. Imagine the impact it would have on the retail world if even half of Black Friday demand just simply went away? There wouldn’t be a need for crowd control fencing or a website to track the Black Friday death toll each year (oh, how I wish that wasn’t a real thing,) and perhaps some stores wouldn’t even be able to justify calling in all those of employees away from their families without all these customers clamoring for their attention. Because the hidden truth of Black Friday is this – it’s not the retailers’ faults; we have nobody but ourselves to blame. If the demand wasn’t there, the stores wouldn’t have a reason to continue the craziness any longer. So the power is ultimately ours. Nothing battles the current of consumerism more than the value of contentment. When our hearts are focused on being content, we see the virtues of the life we already live and the numerous blessings we already possess – and suddenly no amount of discount seems high enough to give that up to go sleep in a Best Buy parking lot.
Stephanie Tait is a mother of two, currently living in Salem, Oregon. She walked away from a successful portrait photography business to launch her personal brand, The Joy Parade, for which she is now a full time author and speaker. Her unique style of whimsical photojournalism paired with her humorous musings on life helped her gain an explosive Instagram following (@thejoyparade) over the past 18 months, which she is now translating into a personal lifestyle blog launching in 2015. Her blog will be visible at www.thejoyparadeblog.com
Amen! Years ago, I used to go to JoAnn’s on Black Friday for the 99 cent flannel, but the reality is, I don’t need the low price bad enough to offset the crowds and the craziness.
I hear you! I was just having a very similar conversation with someone yesterday!
I AM SOOOO GLAD I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE! I have never been a fan of Black Friday shopping – the crowds, the greed, the rudeness, the endless lines, the commercialism, the EVERYTHING about it is… well you get the idea. I love that you make it MORE than just not shopping on that day! I love that it’s a tradition with activities and building memories with your family! Totally starting this with my own family! Thank you!
I sooo feel the same way! I have been inspired to start this with my family too!
This is a fantastic idea! I hate the black friday nonsense (and was not aware that there was a website to track the death toll, that is insane). Thanksgiving should be for being thankful, not for waiting and planning your shopping trips of the next day (or even that evening). And yes, saving money is fantastic, but at the expense of time with loved ones? Nope, that’s not really saving anything after all.
And its fabulous that you have managed to sheild your children from the craziness that is black friday. It wasn’t such a big deal when I was growing up, and then all of a sudden it was on the news, crowds of people in stores after Thanksgiving! Keep them not knowing about it as long as you can!
Every sentiment you shared in this comment totally resonates with me – thank you. And, “yes, saving money is fantastic, but at the expense of time with loved ones? Nope, that’s not really saving anything after all.” – AMEN! Very well said!
I cannot believe how commercialized our holidays have become. It’s so important to linger at the Table of the Lord and be reminded of all that we already have. Enjoyed my visit from the #bloggercaregroup!
Yes! Thank you Barbie!
What a great concept and a wonderful tradition! Let’s all be purposeful in what we pass on to our children! Love it! Thanks for sharing!
Yes – right there with you Stephanie! Thanks for adding to the conversation here 🙂
What a great idea! I always enjoy when I see parents raising their kids with the right values! 🙂